Eating Gluten-Free In Florence

gluten-free in florence

In all my years as a gluten-free eater with Celiac, I have never had an easier time or a more enjoyable time eating out than I have in Italy. I know, I know, you think of all that bread and pasta and assume it’s a gluten nightmare.

Not the case at all!

Eating gluten-free in Florence was a joy. In fact, Italy as a whole is far ahead of the States in terms of gluten-free availability and contamination caution when preparing food in a shared kitchen.

When we leave Rome, I will do a huge comprehensive ultimate guide to gluten-free eating in this wonderful city. But now I want to highlight the amazing places we ate while staying for 3 days in Florence.

Starbene Gluten Free

Let me just start with the Queen of Gluten-Free. I found the absolute best gluen-free pastries I have ever had in my life – by a long shot – at Starbene. In fact, they were probably the best pastries I’ve had in my life overall. The owner has figured out how to make gluten-free flours to be light and flakey.

Over the three days I enjoyed both chocolate and custard-filled croissants, an apple strudel, and a chocolate donut. All were pure bliss.

Ciro & Sons

Right off the train from Rome, we were starving. Luckily, Ciro & Sons was only a 10 minute walk away. We sat on their lovely patio and shared a bottle of sparkling water. Almost every single thing on their menu could be made gluten-free. The waiter took his time to explain the few things that could not be converted.

I opted for Gnocchi (pictured above). It was truly the best I’ve ever had. Kyle and I shared a banana caramel cheesecake because we weren’t quite painfully stuffed enough! This was probably the best meal we had.

Trattoria da Garibardi

For our first dinner, we stopped at this highly-rated restaurant in the heart of Florence, Trattoria da Garibardi. The gluten-free menu was extensive and delicious.

We started the night of with a half liter of red wine. Then we shared a gluten-free fried pizza dough starter with ham and cheese. The waitress then brought me out GF bread loaf. I chose eggplant parmesan for my main course. Incredible.

Le Botteghe Di Donatello

Our second day was spent mostly at the Duomo, so we wanted a place nearby. Le Botteghe Di Donatello is right across the street from the Duomo, which means it’s convenient, but slightly pricier. We sat inside due to the rain and had phenomenal service.

We shared half liter of red wine. I ordered pizza with a crispy gluten-free crust, mushrooms, real mozzarella, and prosciutto. For dessert, I had a panna cotta with berry sauce.

I’Toscano

For our final dinner, we went away from the crowds and found a small, rustic, authentic Italian restaurant called I’Toscano. It was quiet other than all the Italian voices! Loved it.

Their entire menu could be made gluten-free. We started with (you guessed it!) a half liter of red wine, a basket of gluten-free bread, and then a meatballs starter. I opted for a lighter dish this night and chose chicken and greens. To the side there were fried veggies. Truly the highly of the meal. We finished by sharing a chocolate torte

Maso

Before our train the final day, we grabbed some lunch at Maso and sat outdoors under the covered patio. While they didn’t have gluten-free bread, they did have pasta and pizza dough. I opted for the gluten-free pasta with tomatoes and prawns. It was really nice and the service was wonderful.

Gluten Free

The Uffizi & The Accademia: Florence Museums Guide

florence museums

Florence is an epicenter for Renaissance art. You could spend days and days going through galleries seeing beautiful painting after painting and sculpture after sculpture. Unless you are living abroad in Florence or have a full week at your disposal, you are going to need to check out the highlights and call it good enough.

Trust me. These galleries are so impressive you won’t feel like you’re missing out even if they are all you see! These are the big dogs. They’re famous for good reason.

During our 3 days there, we actually went to a total of three Florence museums: The Uffizi, The Accademia, and the Duomo’s art museum. I covered the last one in my post on The Duomo, so today will be all about The Uffizi and The Accademia.

florence museums

Look. I love going to art galleries. Always have. But there is something special about going through them standing next to an actual artist. And as most of you know, Kyle is no run-of-the-mill artist (Think I’m just biased? I’m not. Look here!). I adore seeing the artwork through his eyes too.

The Uffizi: Quick & Interesting Facts

  • The Uffizi was built in 1581 under the request of a member of the Medici family.
  • The building was never meant to house the best art in the world. It was going to be a corporate office.
  • The regular tickets are 8€. We ordered ours ahead of time (using this helpful guide), so we didn’t have to wait in line. That was an extra 4€, but well worth it. On the first Sunday of every month, The Uffizi is free for everyone. Allowing all people to enjoy the art.
  • The Uffizi closes on Mondays. Tuesday-Sunday the hours are 8:15-6:50.

florence museums

The Uffizi is huge and full of treasures. We really enjoyed our time wondering through the hallways like the one above just as much as we did the individual rooms. (P.S. The Leonardo da Vinci room disappointed. There was better art from other lesser known artists.)

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There is so much to see, we took a little pit stop at a bench and people watched. Yes, it’s a bit crowded. But be patient. Eventually a crowd will move and you can get a cool view or picture of whatever you want to see.

uffiziGypsy feet 

The Accademia: Quick & Interesting Facts

  • Overall, The Accademia is actually a pretty small museum. The main draw is Michelangelo’s David. Once you’re there, you’ll see why!
  • The tickets are also 8 €, and just like the Uffizi, we ordered them ahead of time to avoid the lines and paid an extra 4€. Trust me: worth it.
  • The Accademia closes on Mondays. Tuesday-Sunday the hours are 8:15-6:50.

florence museums

The Accademia is actually rather small for an art museum. It’s main draw is the David. And he does not disappoint. He was much larger and more magnificent than I had ever pictured. We looked up at him for a good 20 minutes.

This is a stunningly perfect work of art. You will see his hands and head are actually a bit too big, but when you stand much further away, it looks exactly as it should. There’s serious genius behind this statue.

If you follow me in Instagram, you will have already seen my “What does David’s backside look like?” post. But here it is in case you don’t! (Don’t pretend you’ve never wondered!)

florence museums

The rest of the museum was okay. Nothing I was overly impressed by, but I wouldn’t say I was bored either. Don’t plan on spending more than an hour at this spot. Seeing David though was truly a highlight of the trip. So don’t leave without visiting The Accademia.

**You’ll notice that both the museums are closed on Mondays. Keep this in mind when you decide which days to visit Florence.**

florence museums

Exploring Florence’s Duomo

florence's duomo

Last week I shared an overview glimpse at our time in Florence. This week I want to break it down a bit. Florence has many incredible things to see, but the main tourist draw is its Duomo. It’s breathtaking and a must-stop for tourists.

Florence’s Duomo: Quick & Interesting Facts

  • It took nearly 150 years to complete (1200s to 1400s).
  • Originally built to display the wealth and power of the city.
  • It’s considered the third largest church in the world
  • The Duomo is not just one building, but rather a series of six things to see:
    • Cathedral
    • Dome (Cupola)
    • Baptistry
    • Bell Tower
    • Crypt
    • Museum
  • Each part of the Duomo opens and closes at different times, so check this website to know for sure.

florence's duomo

Since we were only in Florence for three days and dealt with a time crunch, we didn’t get to see the Bell Tower. Everything else was incredible!

We bought a combo ticket through this website and saw everything for 15€, a deal I highly recommend. We even got to schedule a time for the dome, so we didn’t have to wait in the ridiculously long line. Thank goodness we did. Not only was the line over an hour long, but it was also pouring rain. We would have been drenched to the bone and agitated from waiting.

Museum – 10AM

florence's duomo

I was expecting an okay museum, but this place is gorgeous and far surpassed my expectations. It’s a modern museum with old art. So the walls and lighting are perfect for taking in the beauty of the ancient art. We absolutely loved this place.

Cathedral – 11AM

florence's duomo

The cathedral itself is free to go into. We felt the outside was way more impressive than the inside. We didn’t spend very long looking around. The paintings on the inside of the dome were gorgeous, however.

Crypt – 11:15AM

florence's duomo

Downstairs in the cathedral is the crypt. It was interesting, but I would not have paid the full-price fee if we hadn’t bought the Duomo package. You will see the findings of a massive archeological dig, including ancient gravestones.

Baptistry – 11:45

florence's duomo

Simply gorgeous. This octagonal baptistry may be small, but the mosaic work is insane. Not only is the mosaic itself amazing, it’s attached to the Dome, which means these little pieces are working against gravity. Kyle and I sat on the pews for a few minutes just to take it all in.

Cappuccino Break – 12:00

florence's duomo

Right before our big climb, we decided to rest our feet and get a little coffee. The coffee shop right across the street was ridiculously overpriced, but delicious (6€ decaf cappuccino for me – it’s 1€ right by our apartment in Rome).

Dome (Cupola) 12:30

florence's duomo

I had read that the dome (cupola to the Italians) climb is steep and narrow and not great for people with claustrophobia. Nobody is lying about this at all! This thing is intense.

463 narrow steps take you all the way up to the top of the Duomo. People literally will have to stop and squeeze to let people going the other direction pass by. We loved it, but we could see how it would not be everyone’s cup of tea. The view from the top was absolutely lovely.

florence's duomoPlease ignore the rain-matted hair!

florence's duomo

How To Use Airbnb and Why You Need It

airbnb

Once upon a time, you vacationed in hotels. You were clearly a tourist as the bellhop took your luggage to your lodging room amongst 100 other similar rooms

Today, you get to “experience a place like you live there.” Or at least that’s what Airbnb says you get to do when you use their service. I happen to agree! As a digital nomad who works from different places across the U.S. and the world, Airbnb has become my beloved real estate agent.

Airbnb is changing the way the world travels, and I think you need to hop on board. Here’s my Airbnb 101!

Why You Need Airbnb

If you want to travel the world (or even just travel your country), why would you want to stay in one hotel after another? With minor variations (and sometimes cleanliness variations), once you’ve seen a hotel… well… you’ve seen them all.

Airbnb is different.

Airbnb has listings of unique neighborhood apartments and homes in over 190 countries owned by regular people – just like you and me. You get to have a true experience as a local instead of a passerby’s glance. It’s more comfortable, more accommodating, more authentic… and don’t forget, cheaper.

1. Savings

If you are going to be a frequent traveller, racking up hotel costs is the easiest way to blow through your money on a bed you are probably only going to see at night. Why not stay in a comfortable apartment or home and avoid all the heightened costs of staying at a hotel chain?

If you’re a digital nomad like me, you need the cost of an apartment abroad to not exceed what you would pay in your hometown. Since most of the listings offer considerable weekly and monthly discounts, living somewhere becomes feasible.

Sure, Airbnb also offers luxury homes and apartments in ideal locations. These will cost much more. But you will find endless affordable options as well. For example, we are staying in a wonderful location in Naples this week for only $50 a night.

For those who wan’t to save even more – you can choose to rent a private room in somebody’s home. That’s not our cup of tea. We like apartments to ourselves, but the option does exist.

2. Experience

Staying in unique spots along your travels with local architecture and decor trends is part of an overall experience. Don’t just vacation somewhere, live there – experience the culture – immerse yourself.

Unless you choose to only rent an individual room, your stay comes with a kitchen, a full bathroom (or multiple), and sometimes even a balcony or backyard. You get the tea kettle or the ironing board. Your experience feels more home-y and comfortable. In a sense, the uniqueness appeals to the adventurers and the homey-feel appeals to homebodies. Everyone wins.

Plus, the hosts are typically ready to offer personalized suggests on what to do or where to eat.

3. Ease

Instead of researching hotels and going from website to website to price them, Airbnb is a one stop shop. Put in your dates, location, specifications, and you will conveniently see all your options in both list and map format.

Airbnb will handle all the money exchange, which is both a safety feature and an offer of ease. Plus, Airbnb will automatically reconfigure the costs to your currency preference, so you don’t have to do the math. (Example: Host charges __ in Euros, but Airbnb will only show you __ in Dollars.)

Each host will have clear cancellation policies when you book. Some are flexible, some are strict. But you get to decide which works for you.

What About Safety?

The #1 question I had when I first heard of Airbnb was: is this even safe? I’m sure you’re wondering the same thing.

Airbnb has double layer of protection. Guests review hosts and hosts review guests. This way you can monitor the previous reviews and see if others had a good experience. It also protects hosts from inviting less-than-friendly guests into their space.

Kyle and I have chosen to never stay in an Airbnb that does not have at least 2 reviews for this reason. Sure, we may miss out on a perfectly safe and wonderful spot, but we get to arrive in confidence everywhere we go.

To learn more, watch this short video on Airbnb safety:

How To Use Airbnb

It couldn’t be easier!

1. Make An Account

Visit the Airbnb website HERE and make a simple account. You will need to include information like: phone number, email address, preferred currency, and your credit card.

2. Search

The search system is easy. You can start with their simple search on the home page:

Airbnb

Or you can do a more complex search on their results screen. This includes filters. One filter I often use is “Internet.” There’s no point in staying somewhere where I can’t do my work.

airbnb

3. Book It

Some are instant bookings, some you have to get approval from the host. Once the approval goes through, you get an email with your confirmation. You can discuss travel plans with your host at this point.

What About Hosting?

Since Kyle and I don’t have a home, we haven’t had the opportunity to host yet. But for those who have an extra home or even an extra room in their home, you could consider signing up and becoming an Airbnb host. You can choose easy Paypal or direct deposit options.

Not only can you earn some side money and meet interesting people from all over the world, Airbnb offers their hosts insurance and a $1,000,000 guarantee in case guests ruin their space.

Sign Up For Airbnb And Save $25

For all of my beloved blog friends, I have an offer for you! Sign up using THIS link, and you will receive $25 dollars off your first booking. This will make your inexpensive trip – even cheaper!

Travel well,

Tay xo

3 Days In Florence Italy

florence italy

After considerable research (AKA a quick google search), Kyle and I decided to make the Trastevere neighborhood of Rome our home base in Rome for six weeks. We knew we wanted to do some exploring outside of the Rome area, and our first stop was Florence!

Florence: Quick & Interesting Facts

  • It is said that 1/3 of the world’s treasures reside in Florence. Holy art!
  • “Florence” is how Americans say it. It’s “Firenze” to the Italians.
  • Florence is the capital of the Tuscany region.
  • Florence also has cobblestone streets, but the stones are typically much wider than the stones in Rome. Much easier to pull off heels, ladies.
  • Florence is known for its leather products, and as you walk down many streets you can smell that delicious leathery scent.

It was pretty chilly and rainy most of the time. Luckily, we brought two umbrellas with us so the fun never ended. I think the overcast skies and silky wet streets made it it even prettier!

Florence is extremely touristy. I swear it felt like there were more Americans/Canadians walking around than Italians. We still felt that experience was lovely and genuine. Here is all we did in the three days in Florence!

Day 1:

Train from Rome to Florence

While we had already taken the train from the airport to our neighborhood, this was our first experience with longer trains. It was quite enjoyable. I was a bit nervous it would be difficult to find our train each time, but each station was well-organized and labeled. The train was comfortable and had outlets for us to charge our phones (we brought our American plug converter).

Apartment

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After a quick and delicious lunch at Ciro & Sons right off the train station, we head to our apartment we booked through Airbnb (click here to learn more about Airbnb and receive an offer!). It was adorable. Our host was the sweetest Italian woman who guided us to our bright and cheery little apartment with a huge window that overlooked a quaint residential scene.

Uffizi

florence

We had a reservation for the Uffizi museum at 3pm. We stayed about three hours. It’s a Renaissance art heaven. It did not disappoint. My favorite exhibit was the Botticelli room. After hours of church art (beautiful, but repetitive subject matter), it was nice to see some Roman goddesses! I’ll post a more comprehensive museum post next week!

Dinner

We stopped for aperitivo, and I had a Spritz before dinner. Then it was grub time! Let me tell you! Gluten-free eating was a huge hit in Florence. I had eggplant parm with a rosemary gluten-free loaf of bread this evening. Delish. Then we walked home.

Day 2:

Duomo

duomo

I could write so much about the Duomo that I will dedicate an entire post to it in the next couple weeks! St. Peter’s was the most beautiful interior I have seen, but the exterior winner is the Duomo. We purchased a combo pass for 15 euros that let us climb to the top of the cupola (almost 500 narrow steps), visit the crypts underneath, enter the baptistry, and see the museum. We spent about 3 1/2 hours with this whole experience.

duomo

It absolutely poured while we were waiting outside for the climb to the top. I made a reservation for 12:30, but we still had to wait about 15 minutes. Of course, that’s when the sky opened up!

Lunch

We stopped for lunch right next to the Duomo at a restaurant that had great gluten-free reviews. It was a little pricier due to its touristy location, but well worth it!

Galleria dell’ Accademia

david

We had an appointment for the Accademia to see Michelangelo’s David at 4:30. I’ll write about it more in my Florence museums post, but just know that David is absolutely worth going to Florence for. Normally, I’m not super impressed by the famous pieces of art. But David is one handsome man.

Dinner

Dinner on our second day was at a tiny little local restaurant off the beaten path. It was cozy, quiet (other than the loud Italian voices which I loved), and delicious.

Day 3:

Arno River

florence

On our last morning, we stopped by a gluten-free bakery so I could get a croissant. Then we walked down to the river and found a cafe for a cappuccino.

Ponte Vecchio

ponto vecchio florence

Ponte Vecchio is a famous bridge in Florence that is filled with little jewelry shops. I really enjoyed window shopping here!

Leather Market

Since Florence is known for its leather products, we avoided the overpriced shops and went straight to the market. Kyle bought me an adorable lattice-patterned wallet. I was in heaven looking at all the little trinkets, purses, and jackets.

Wandering

florence

The rest of day 3 was spent wandering around the streets of Florence. We ended up at a local park at one point to rest our feet. We found a great lunch spot where I had prawns and Kyle and ravioli with truffle sauce. I may or may not have had another gluten-free pastry!

Train back to Rome

Our train back to Rome was peaceful. I read more of The Bell Jar. We realized over half way through that the train was expected to arrive at one of the main Rome stations about 20 minutes late, which made us miss our transfer train to our neighborhood. It ended up being no problem. The customer service lady was super kind and helpful and got us on a train that was only 15 minutes later!

florence italyMy three Florence treasures. Thank you, baby, for the wallet and scarf. xo

We were absolutely exhausted. Our feet were killing us. But we loved our time in Florence! Have you been to Florence? Going soon? Let me know in the comments!